Local Wire

J.D. Stooks: Shutterbug

Artist: J.D. Stooks

Title: Shutterbug

Basics: The tidy, five-song EP from Phoenix native J.D. Stooks follows his solid 2008 album Women & Gold. Stooks is a rare beast as far as YAFI is concerned -- he writes songs with some content, at least stuff I am actually interested in. On Women & Gold, Stooks wrote a song called "Mary Mouer" about the ghost at Casey Moore's -- while also recording the song at the bar. This time around, Stooks has recorded a song about moving to a now-more-popular-than-ever Pacific Northwest city.

Best Song: The titular opener is not only the best song on the EP, but it allows me to use the word "titular." The song establishes Stooks' twangy influences, yet doesn't bash the listener over the head with some heavy-handed country stylings -- for that, I am thankful. I understand that Arizona lends itself nicely to some tame, boring country-influenced music, but I also understand that certain Arizona musicians don't have to play into that comfortable scenario. Stooks can sing, too, something much appreciated in my YAFI venture. It's no surprise, then, that Stooks enjoys the work of Justin Townes Earle, son of Steve Earle. While ol' Waylon may have joined The Sound Strike's boycott, he still makes fantastic music, as does his son.

Song Worth Further Discussion: "Move To Portland" instantly caught my eye -- the Rose City is my hometown, so I often like to hear what people have to say about it. "Move To Portland" is definitely the first YAFI I have come across that deals with Portland, and I love it. When Stooks sings "'Cause everyone moved there / And so did their problems" he's not fucking around. Native Portlanders aren't all that keen about people moving to their fair city - former Governor Tom McCall once famously warned people against moving to Oregon. Portland seems like a shining beacon for a certain demographic -- it's cheaper than Seattle or San Francisco -- and people constantly dream of moving there. 

With that, however, comes the fact that Oregon has the second highest unemployment rate in the country (thanks, Michigan!) and it rains a whole lot. Yet Portland is that exotic escape for, say, the struggling musician who grew up in Chandler and worked his whole life at different coffee shops -- the exact person Stooks calls out in his song, and better him than I. I love the place to death, but Portland doesn't need your cluelessness and emotional baggage -- there are plenty of locals with their heads up their asses and problems of their own.

Suggestions: "Don't Go Out Dancing Tonight" is the fifth and final song on the EP. It clocks in at barely over a minute long. I would have actually liked to hear more from Stooks on this EP -- at least a proper fifth song.

Grade: B+